British PM Cameron visits refugee camp in Lebanon

David Cameron visited refugee camp in Bekaa Valley, vowing to train and equip Lebanese army

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Prime Minister David Cameron meets Syrian refugee families in a settlement camp in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, September 14, 2015.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has visited a refugee camp houses people from neighbouring war-torn Syria in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, less than a mile from Syrian border.

One of the families Cameron met on Monday is due to be flown to the UK. "I wanted to come here to see for myself and to hear for myself stories of refugees" said Cameron.

Cameron’s first visit to Lebanon as the UK’s prime minister came while EU interior ministers are discussing plans to allocate 160,000 refugees among European countries. 

"I want to focus on how we help Syrian refugees here in Lebanon, in Jordan, how we make sure we discourage people from making this dangerous journey to Europe but instead we take people from these camps and we make them welcome in the United Kingdom, in our country," Cameron said.

Syria’s civil war started in 2011, killed over 240,000 people and driven more than 7 million into neighbouring countries including Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt. And pushed thousands into risky sea journey towards Europe, in which hundreds ended up dead or missing.

The UK government pledged to take in 20,000 Syrian refugees in coming five years, Cameron told British MPs earlier this month, and appointed Richard Harrington as minister for Syrian refugees affairs to ensure the safe arrivals of the Syrians. 

Prime Minister David Cameron visits a Syrian refugee settlement camp in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, September 14, 2015.

Cameron says his Minister of Syrian Affairs Richard Harrington's post will allow him to offer Syrians a warm welcome to the UK. "We make sure there are homes for them to go to, schools for their children, a warm welcome in Britain."

“This will pay for food packages for thousands of refugees, as well as clean water, blankets, stoves, mattresses, counselling support and play areas for children.”

Cameron said: "Turning to refugees I want to pay tribute to the immense generosity and resilience of the Lebanese people who have provided refuge for their Syrian neighbours for four years and more." 1.1 million Syrian refugees currently reside in Lebanon, which is more than a quarter of Lebanon's population.

Britain has promised $154.5 million to help Syrian refugees in several countries, with up to $45 million going to Lebanon alone.

Train, equip and mentor the Lebanese army

Cameron said the UK provided training to more than 5,000 Lebanese soldiers, as well as helping build watchtowers on the Syrian borders to boost security.

The British PM also promised the UK will "train, equip and mentor the Lebanese Armed Forces." 

Cameron met with Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam on Monday too and said the UK was determined to do all they can to strengthen the security of Lebanon.

British Prime Minister David Cameron attends a news conference with Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam during his visit at the government palace in downtown Beirut, Lebanon September 14, 2015




TRTWorld and agencies